How New Mexico students from pre-K to eighth grade can get free online tutoring

Lilliana uses the computer during her free time in kindergarten at Whittier Elementary School in 2017. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Free online tutoring is now available for almost all students who are in the eighth grade or below.

The state Public Education Department announced Thursday a nearly $3.3 million contract to provide free virtual tutoring to all students from pre-K to eighth grade at Title I schools.

“We know that tutoring can help close gaps for our students who are struggling to master concepts in classrooms alone,” Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said in a news release. “This investment in customized support will serve our students efficiently and with immediacy.”

The contract came after a nearly two-month proposal process. The tutoring is currently available to students.

The tutoring will focus on math, science and language arts for pre-K through eighth grade students at Title I schools, including those that are tribally controlled. Each student will receive 20 hours of virtual tutoring in total that can happen before, during or after school.

There are roughly 715 Title I schools in New Mexico, according to a list provided by the PED. About 130 of those are in Albuquerque Public Schools. A school is given the Title I designation if over 40% of its students come from low-income families.

That comes out to a little over 178,500 students, which is about 83% of the pre-K through eighth grade population statewide, PED spokeswoman Kelly Pearce wrote in an email.

Tutoring is being provided through an “educational support system” from Montreal-based Paper Education Company Inc., which provides its services to approximately 3 million students throughout the United States and Canada.

The tutoring is available in English and Spanish, and Paper touts one-on-one work with students. But for that to be effective, Paper CEO Philip Cutler told the Journal, the word needs to get out.

“It’s not something that happens on its own, it requires all of us to be pushing in the same direction to build awareness,” he said. “But this is going to be a really big thing for students and for the community, so we’re obviously really excited about it, and we’re looking forward to supporting all the students across New Mexico.”

The contract with Paper is being paid with federal pandemic relief funds, Pearce said — specifically the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.